Trading Big Brother

I often wonder why there is so much effort to find out if I like peanut butter and if I buy wheat grass seed online. I also wonder when Google knows I want brownie mix, 5lbs, at 3am Sunday morning, why is it our government cannot ascertain the real unemployment rate?

What else would motivate privacy violators than creating a new type of market exchange, trading your personal online data like baseball cards.

The Wall Street Journal dug in, ran some tests and this is the summary of their investigative findings on the business of profiling you:

  • The study found that the nation's 50 top websites on average installed 64 pieces of tracking technology onto the computers of visitors, usually with no warning. A dozen sites each installed more than a hundred. The nonprofit Wikipedia installed none.
  • Tracking technology is getting smarter and more intrusive. Monitoring used to be limited mainly to "cookie" files that record websites people visit. But the Journal found new tools that scan in real time what people are doing on a Web page, then instantly assess location, income, shopping interests and even medical conditions. Some tools surreptitiously re-spawn themselves even after users try to delete them.
  • These profiles of individuals, constantly refreshed, are bought and sold on stock-market-like exchanges that have sprung up in the past 18 months.

Seems spying on Internet users spawned never ending middle men, all making money by peddling real time information about what you're doing and thinking at any moment.

The article shows they are even tracking on health and financial data. Many are hiring quantitative analysts, writing probability models, with insights, such as it's not what you know and do, but who you know. and hang out with...which determines if you will make that credit card payment on time.

Media6Degrees Inc., whose technology was found on three sites by the Journal, is pitching banks to use its data to size up consumers based on their social connections. The idea is that the creditworthy tend to hang out with the creditworthy, and deadbeats with deadbeats.

Right. It's not if you cut the check and paid the bill, it's all about who you hang out with. These people are writing their distorted social views of the world into software, putting a price tag on your head and auctioning you off like cattle.

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If they check where I wander on the internety they will soon see I visit sites like this and consider me a deadbeat and leave me alone.The internet has gone through changes over the years,they used to entice you with free gifts just by filling out surveys.I once started out filling out one but it turned into page after page,so I quit in the middle but too late I had pop up after pop up till I changed my internet address.That put the cabosh on that system.Web crawling bots are the norm now.If I were you I would change your search enjine I have had no problem with yahoo yet.The rumor the F.B.I. bought google,don't know if its true or not was my trigger to change my search enjine.

Frank Rutherford

there is no real escape

no matter what you do. I compare the Internets to the great public bathroom.

That said, case in point, unemployment, there is no reason to not track immigration status of workers and show that U.S. workers are being displaced by foreign guest workers. They will not due to politics, not what is in the best interest of the U.S. workforce. Same thing with offshore outsourcing. They refuse to track, they deny, routinely millions of jobs were offshore outsourced and U.S. MNCs are busy creating millions of jobs in India, China, Brazil...instead of the United States.

That's was pissed me off. Visa/MC are literally lowering credit scores if someone uses their credit card in a bar too often or shops at Walmart, yet our government seemingly cannot even get GDP right, one of the most critical economic metrics.

Google knows when I step up from my computer to use the bathroom, yet the U.S. government cannot even get right top security clearances. Denies them on credit score when obviously a host of people have them, who should not...

list goes on and on.

The Persuaders

It's from 2004 so I assume there have been only more advances in data mining and such, but this Frontline episode called the Persuaders is really interesting. Check out the section on Acxiom and how they try to figure out how to pigeonhole your preferences.

so out of date now

I think I ran that show, which is great, as a FMN. The problem is technology has advanced so much and people are now wired to the hilt, with geolocation (GPS too), texting, tweeting, facebooking (I must be the only one on the planet who doesn't do facebook), etc. it's an electronic record, almost to the point of brain farts. All of that data can be number crunched into a behavioral pattern. The problem is, those behavioral patterns, those models, are usually really distorted. They claim correlation when ya know, there is either so much deviation or it's like one study in time and so on....then try to claim their model is "truth". Very minority report.

I would hope Frontline or some other quality documentary group would tackle the new age. This Wall Street Journal article is going into some depth.